Professor’s kind response to student’s absence goes viral
Finding good, reliable childcare can be a real challenge for parents, and sometimes even the best options fall though at the last minute. When 21-year-old single mom Morgan King, a student at University of Tennessee, had to miss a class because she didn’t have childcare, she emailed her professor to let her know the reason for her absence – but she never expected to get the reply she received.
Not only did her professor — Dr. Sally Hunter — give King instructions on how to complete the classwork she missed, but she also extended an open invitation for King’s daughter to come to class with her anytime.
“In the future, if you are having trouble finding someone to watch Korbyn, please feel free to just BRING HER with you to class,” Hunter wrote. “I would be absolutely delighted to hold her while I teach so that you can still pay attention to the class and take notes. I work for the Department of CHILD and FAMILY Studies — so how terrible would it be if I were unwilling to have a child visit our class?”
After reiterating that she was “very serious” with her offer, she went one step further and said, “Let me know if there are any other ways I could be supporting you.”
“I just didn’t know what else to do,” King told WBIR-TV. “I emailed my professor after class and was apologizing for missing class that day.” She was so blown away by her professor’s response that she posted the email on Twitter. The email has since gone viral, with more than 26,000 likes on Twitter and nearly 5,000 retweets.
“I literally started crying because it’s just so rare, especially teachers in general nowadays,” King told WARE-TV. “The fact that somebody was willing to work with me and to excuse me from the quiz I missed and told me how to access the assignment, it just showed that she cared about more than the fact that I missed class that day.”
Though rare, Dr. Hunter isn’t alone in her kids-welcome policy. Last fall, a math professor at Lander University in South Carolina became Internet famous for not only encouraging her student to bring her infant to class with her, but holding the baby while teaching. In 2016, a video of a Baylor professor cradling a baby for the duration of a 55-minute lecture went viral, and who can forget the professor in Jerusalem who held a student’s baby after he started to cry during class.
Dr. Hunter is admittedly a bit surprised by her Internet fame, pointing out that inviting baby Korbyn to the class was simply the “decent” thing to do. “She just doesn’t think she did anything special, which speaks about the kind of person she is,” King told WBIR-TV.
— Morgan King (@morgantking) June 19, 2017
King said she’s grateful to know bringing Korbyn to class is an option if she’s in a pinch again. She is studying to become a recreational therapist who helps children with disabilities, and she works nights in a restaurant. “I have to get my degree for Korbyn, not just for me. It means a lot that people are really supportive,” King said.
Perhaps the Internet’s hunger for simple acts of kindness goes to show just how desperate we are for some basic common decency in these strange and volatile times. Or maybe it’s because parents are so used to being judged and shamed for every little thing. Or maybe it’s because kindness should always be celebrated.
In any event, standing ovation to Dr. Hunter and anyone supporting parents and families – because we all know parenting is hard enough as it is. Since her email went viral, Hunter has shared her own childcare and parenting struggles: “I had Isaac, my oldest son, 10 years ago. It was March and I didn’t finish the semester until May. It was my last semester of graduate coursework to get the PHD. My professor Dr. Blanton said why don’t you just bring him with you to class,” Dr. Hunter said.
She added that her department — the Department of Child and Family Studies — understands students have lives and obligations outside of school.
“Childcare falls through sometimes, and it does for me as well, and I bring my kids to work,” Dr. Hunter said. “We all need people around us, people supporting us. Nobody can do this journey by themselves.”